Editorial: History in the Flesh

“History repeats itself.”

At least it does when we forget.

Last Tuesday, Minnijean Brown-Trickey, one of the Little Rock Nine, visited Youngstown State University’s campus to speak to students, answer questions and show a documentary about her life. The Little Rock Nine were — despite being enrolled — barred entry to their racially segregated high school in 1957 by the governor of Arkansas. The incident went on to become a turning point in the civil rights movement.

Hearing Brown-Trickey’s story about facing death threats and abuse from an unruly white student body to go to school at a time when education and its quality were separated by color is more direct than reading books and watching film alone.

Brown-Trickey’s tale about racial injustices in 1957 resonates loudly with the current events happening in 2015. This year, the nation has seen a citizen uprising that has lay dormant for years.

Stemming mostly from police brutality, riots, uprisings and outspoken attitudes have not gone unnoticed by the American public. It is a memory from a not so distant past, when people of color were forced to live a more fearful life.

Last week, Simeon Wright, cousin of Emmett Till, spoke in the area about the crimes Till endured. Till was forced out of his house at gunpoint, tortured and killed for allegedly catcalling a white man’s wife. Till was found at the bottom of a river, tied down with a 75 pound cotton gin to his neck with barbed wire.

Till was 14.

Michael Brown was 18. Tamir Rice was 12. Sandra Bland was 28.

Hearing the stories of those who have suffered — who have lived through the history — opens doors for listeners in ways stories heard secondhand simply couldn’t.

History, undoubtedly, repeats itself. Whether it be weather patterns or marches for equality — what happens once most likely happens twice.

When people with perspective and experience come to campus to share both, go hear what they have to say. Reading a book or watching a documentary doesn’t compare to connecting directly with another human being.

Learning from those who have experienced the past firsthand will hopefully prevent those of the present from committing the same mistakes. If the knowledge doesn’t prevent trends, it can at least tell the current population how to handle, or not handle, the situation at hand.

The editorial board that writes editorials consists of the editor-in-chief, the managing editor, the copy editor, and the news editor. These opinion pieces are written separately from news articles. They draw on the opinions of the entire writing staff and do not reflect the opinions of any individual staff member. The Jambar’s business manager and non-writing staff do not contribute to editorials, and the advisor does not have final approval.